National Film Registry Adds ‘Purple Rain’, ‘Clerks’, ‘Gaslight’ & More; ‘Boys Don’t Cry’ One Of Record 7 Pics From Female Helmers

National Film Registry Adds ‘Purple Rain’, ‘Clerks’, ‘Gaslight’ & More; ‘Boys Don’t Cry’ One Of Record 7 Pics From Female Helmers

The Library of Congress has unveiled its annual selection of 25 films added to the National Film Registry, with an unprecedented seven titles directed by women, the most in a single year since the inaugural registry in 1989. (Scroll down for the full list.)


Among those making the cut for 2019 are Kimberly Peirce’s 1999 Oscar winner Boys Don’t Cry; Greta Schiller’s 1984 documentary Before Stonewall; Claudia Weill’s 1978 Girlfriends; Gunvor Nelson’s 1969 avant-garde pic My Name Is Oona; Elaine May’s A New Leaf, which in 1971 made her the first woman to write, direct and star in a major American studio feature; the 2002 indie Real Women Have Curves, directed by Patricia Cardoso; and Madeline Anderson’s 1970 I Am Somebody, which is considered the first documentary on civil rights directed by a woman of color. 

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Also notably added to the Film Registry are such classics as George Cukor’s 1944 Gaslight, which won Ingrid Bergman her first Oscar; as well as Robert Stevenson’s emotional dog story, Old Yeller, from 1957.


More recent titles include Martin Scorsese’s The Band documentary The Last Waltz; Sissy Spacek-starrer Coal Miner’s Daughter; Milos Forman’s Amadeus; Prince musical Purple Rain; Kevin Smith’s debut film, Clerks (which received this year’s most public votes); Spike Lee’s She’s Gotta Have It; and Oliver Stone’s Platoon.


Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden announced the annual selection which is chosen based on cultural, historic and aesthetic importance to the nation’s film heritage and guarantees the film will be preserved under the National Film Preservation Act. The films must be at least 10 years old.


“The National Film Registry has become an important record of American history, culture and creativity,” said Hayden. “Unlike many other honors, the registry is not restricted to a time, place or genre. It encompasses 130 years of the full American cinematic experience — a virtual Olympiad of motion pictures. With the support of Congress, the studios and other archives, we are ensuring that the nation’s cinematic history will be around for generations to come.” 


The 2019 selection brings the number of films in the registry to 775 and spans a century of filmmaking, from 1903 to 2003. The oldest film in this year’s class, is Alfred C Abadie’s short Emigrants Landing At Ellis Island, which was recorded for the Thomas A Edison company. The most recent is Errol Morris’ Robert McNamara documentary, Fog Of War.

Scorsese, who sits on the National Film Preservation Board, also commented today, “The National Film Registry is an essential American enterprise that officially recognizes the rich depth and variety, the eloquence and the real greatness of American cinema and the filmmakers who have created it, film by film.”


Coal Miner’s Daughter helmer Michael Apted added, “It means the world to me that the world will know that Coal Miner’s Daughter has been acknowledged as an important and lasting film. For a young British director to be given the reins to capture what was truly a deep American subject was beyond rewarding.”


Albert Magnoli, why directed Purple Rain, also noted, “All of us strived to create a film that would capture the attention of what we believed at the time was a small audience. None of us expected this longevity. We simply worked hard every day to get it right, and this honor is a testament to the music, story and characters that were created by all of us so many years ago.”


Jacqueline Stewart, chair of the National Film Preservation Board’s task force on diversity, equity and inclusion, commented, “With this year’s National Film Registry selections, Dr Hayden recognizes the importance of amplifying cinematic voices and stories that have been marginalized for far too long. I look forward to continuing research and dialogue with the Librarian, board members, film communities and the American public to ensure that the registry reflects the full spectrum of our society.”


Here’s the full list (in alphabetical order) of this year’s crop of 25:


Amadeus (1984)
Becky Sharp (1935)      
Before Stonewall (1984)
BodyAnd Soul (1925)
Boys Don’t Cry (1999)
Clerks (1994)
Coal Miner’s Daughter (1980)
Emigrants Landing At Ellis Island (1903)
Employees Entrance (1933)    
Fog Of War (2003)         
Gaslight (1944)  
George Washington Carver At Tuskegee Institute (1937)
Girlfriends (1978)
I Am Somebody (1970)
The Last Waltz (1978)
My Name Is Oona (1969)
A New Leaf (1971)        
Old Yeller (1957)
The Phenix City Story (1955)
Platoon (1986)   
Purple Rain (1984)        
Real Women Have Curves (2002)
She’s Gotta Have It (1986)      
Sleeping Beauty (1959)
Zoot Suit (1981)